When Mike spies some sinister creatures stealing corpses from the local cemetery, he and his older brother Jody explore the mausoleum, where they find that the mortician has somehow bridged the gap between Earth and the afterworld.
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One of the finest fantastical atmospheres in an American film of all time. The plot is often deemed as being confusing and taking a nightmare logic, while instead it mostly makes sense, especially when viewed as a metaphor about loss, mourning, and the acceptance of death (death, of which, is symbolized in the form of the Tall Man.) Phantasm is ultimately a masterful horror film, bursting with creative, dark fervor.
Coscarelli's '79 beginning to the series was an inventive example of imagination run amok brought to life with vitality and love of genre. Though made on an obvious challenged budget this is a far more memorable film than the studio's horror output of the time period. 'The Tall Man' and the spheres are now horror icons. Despite the amateur hour in performance and production value at times this transcends its limits.
In horror, plot is arbitrary. Case in point: I'd be hard-pressed to tell you just what, if anything, "Phantasm" is about - and yet that takes nothing away from this masterwork of mood and atmosphere. Decades later, “Phantasm” remains one of the handful of American horror films that comes close to replicating the surreal, dream-like quality that filmmakers like Dario Argento and Mario Bava conjured during the 70's.
Bizarre and original. An adolescent boy's grieving process rendered as supernatural horror. Each scene develops its own particular brand of absurdity, and it’s all edited together in a disjointed, jarring way, suggesting the cognitive noise of a nightmare. The low budget seems to bolster the illusion. And, multiple references to Frank Herbert because why not?
Far exceeded my expectations for an atmospheric if derivative slasher. In short, the psychological subtext of the film is revelatory; the iconography of Gothic horror (even Italian horror) being used to disguise and inform what is in essence a coming of age drama; where the child's obsession with death (and inability to connect with life following the loss a beloved relative) finds expression in a macabre fantasy.
Even if it may ultimately just be a cheesy low-budget horror movie, once you get to understand that much of the humor is intentional, it's actually a pretty clever one. Makes good use of its low budget with an effective atmosphere and some classic set pieces, and the story is fast-paced and original. A lot of fun for horror fans, this is one franchise I might actually be interested in trying out the sequels.
A lesser known horror classic that spawned an extremely entertaining franchise. Scrimm's Tall-Man character is just as iconic to me as Freddy or Jason, perhaps more so given the enigma surrounding him.